The US Centers for Disease Control defines obesity as follows: “Weight that is higher than what is considered as a healthy weight for a given height is described as overweight or obese.”
Obesity gets a special mention in 2020 as it’s been shown that it’s an underlying factor in the likelihood of death from coronavirus.
So how do you know your weight is excessive?
The usual measure is something called the Body Mass Index, or BMI, defined as your weight in kilograms divided by the square of your height in metres.
That’s complicated, but to calculate your BMI, the CDC online BMI Calculator makes it easy. And what does it signify?
• Underweight: BMI less than 18.5
• Normal weight: between 18.5 and 25
• Overweight: between 25 and 30
• Obese: If your BMI is 30.0 or higher
• Severely Obese: 40 or higher
In the US, 42% of older adults are classed as obese, of whom 9% are severely obese.
In the UK, The National Health Service reports that it affects around 1 in every 4 adults.
In both countries, it presents a significant drain on national health resources.
What does Obesity mean for me?
The CDC points out that obesity is associated with poorer mental health outcomes, reduced quality of life, and the leading causes of death, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer.
In other words, just like smoking, obesity will reduce your hopes of many more healthy years, through its effect on a range of illnesses, coronavirus being just one more to add to the list.
The NHS says that obesity reduces life expectancy by an average of 3 to 10 years, depending on how severe it is. It’s estimated that obesity and being overweight contribute to at least 1 in every 13 deaths in Europe.
If you are obese, or borderline obese, then you need to take action on both your diet and your level of exercise. Your diet should shift from junk food and fast food to whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat and fat-free dairy products, and you should be getting regular daily exercise in some form, some of it vigorous!
If you are just below the BMI ‘obese’ range, don’t be complacent!
The NHS points out that a better measure of excess fat is waist size, which can be used as an additional measure in people who are overweight (with a BMI of 25 to 29.9) or moderately obese (with a BMI of 30 to 34.9).
Generally, men with a waist size of 94cm (37 inches) or more and women with a waist size of 80cm (31 inches) or more are more likely to develop obesity-related health problems.
CDC on Obesity: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/defining.html
NHS on obesity: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/obesity/
Link to my post on “Coronavirus Prevention”
Link to my post on “Habits for a longer healthier life”